Sheela and Miriam go to Mencap's Me Time day service in Leicester. For Learning Disability Week 2016 they spoke to us about friends and why friendship is so important.

About each other

Sheela: We met when we came to Mencap, years ago. The things she likes, I like. When we play darts, she’ll be next to me. We have fun and we get on with each other.

Miriam: Yeah, I like the same things as Sheela. We like dominoes.

S: She always wins me!

M: Sometimes!

When we first met

S: I thought she was a nice lady. She doesn’t tell me off. We are best friends. When she’s happy, I’m happy. We sit together, when I go to the bathroom she follows me.

M: I thought she was nice and good to be with.

S:. Every day I say, ‘Morning, do you want to play dominoes?’ and she says yes. We do arts and crafts, a lady comes on Wednesday, we do painting, she’s always next to me. She likes what I like – similar things.

M: I come Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Why are friends so important?

S: When you’re down in the dumps you need someone to cheer you up. You need friends to talk to – on bad days and good days. When you are down in the dumps you need someone to make you feel better. A friend can come and cuddle you, say hello, and that makes it a bit better. If you’ve got friends, you can tell them ‘I don’t feel well, it’s not my day today, can you help and cheer me up?’ She comes and cuddles me, and I’m happy.

M: You need friends to give you company – new ones and old ones. Sometimes [it’s hard to make new friends] if you don’t know them.

S: We have got to know each other better. When she lost her dad and I sent her a card, and we’re more friends now. We are best friends.

If we didn’t know each other

S: I would be lonely, with no one to talk to. I’d be down in the dumps. I’d say, ‘I don’t want to go to Mencap, I’ve got no friends’ and I’d stay home. If you’ve got friends, you look forward to the day – ‘my friend’s coming, let’s go, put your shoes on’. It gives you a reason to go out and enjoy yourself.

M: I wouldn’t come to Mencap if I didn’t know her. If Sheela wasn’t my friend I would say to my mum, ‘I don’t want to go to Mencap’.

S: That’s good, that’s something new I’ve heard today! I’m blushing now!